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Uh, it’s SUPPOSED to be hard!

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Like most young people who are dumb, I entertained a lot of delusional ideas.

I was frustrated that the world didn’t recognize me for how great my “ideas” were. I’d complain about having to “put in my time” (shouldn’t I get to skip all that?? I’m so smart!!).

I even once emailed Guy Kawasaki, a famous Silicon Valley personality, and asked him how to get more speaking gigs. He replied and basically laid down the law by telling me (paraphrased), “You want to know how to get more speaking gigs? Then do something meaningful. Once you do, you’ll have more speaking invitations than you know what to do with. But right now, you haven’t done anything notable.”

It stung to hear that. Like a 14-year-old girl, I thought to myself, “he just doesn’t understand me.” But later I realized he was right.

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That’s why it amused me to read a Reddit thread called “Millionaires of Reddit: How did you strike it rich? What did you do after you made your fortune?”

Some random Internet dude left this whiny comment, complaining about the “lack of capital”:

“If you don’t have access to capital you cannot become wealthy. You do not have access to capital unless your family is already wealthy and can therefore provide the capital.

Its easy to take a mediocre idea and make it profitable if you have the capital available to do it. Its nearly impossible to take a great idea and make it profitable if you don’t have capital no matter how hard you work.”

Uhh…

Right. The only thing holding you back from your idea is a lack of capital — EVEN THOUGH:

  • More than any other time in history, the average person can start a business for less than $100
  • If you had $500,000 in your bank account, what exactly would you do with it? If you ask these whiners a specific question about how they’d deploy their capital, they suddenly get very quiet
  • The “lack of capital” is a convenient excuse to do nothing since you can point at macro-economic trends and complain the world isn’t fair. Which is exactly what this guy does in the comment thread

Here’s a blunt truth: It’s supposed to be hard.

It’s SUPPOSED to be hard to start a successful business or create world-class art or be famous.

And to be blunt, if you can’t figure out how, you don’t deserve to play at those levels.

A famous venture-capital firm had an FAQ on its website. The question said, “How do we reach you?” and the answer said, “We don’t encourage you send your pitch unsolicited. The best entrepreneurs leverage their personal connections to get a personal introduction to one of us at the firm.”

LOSERS SAY: Waa, the deck is stacked against me. I didn’t go to Stanford! I’ll never do it! I hate the President for his tax policy! And then they go back to eating Chipotle.

WINNERS SAY: Shit! I don’t know anyone in that venture firm. I’m going to start meeting other entrepreneurs and learning how they did it. I’ll develop my pitch, refine it, meet new friends, friends of friends, ask everyone’s advice, make more changes, and finally get an introduction to a VC. And then I’ll make my pitch.

Exhausting? Good. It’s supposed to be hard.

I know dozens of people who claimed they wanted to go to elite universities like Harvard or Stanford, but when the time came, they didn’t apply, saying, “I could never get in.” Guess what? They’re right. And because they didn’t even apply, they didn’t deserve to get in.

If you want to start a business, the answers are right in front of you on sites like mine, iwillteachyoutoberich.com. If you want to understand venture capital, you can learn about every aspect of it from sites like venturehacks.com. Hell, if you want to learn how to tie your shoelaces in awesome ways, you can check out sites like this one.

The answers are in front of you. If you can’t figure it out, you don’t deserve to play at those levels.

Now, is everyone capable of getting into Harvard? Or starting a multi-million-dollar business? Of course not. But if your chief excuse is “I need ___” or “the world isn’t fair,” and you don’t even take a chance at trying, you don’t deserve it.

It’s supposed to be hard.

Same for starting a business. How many millions of people have said, “I’d start a company if only I had ___” (an idea, the time, funding)?

They don’t deserve the benefits of being CEO.

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The beautiful part is, you can do this.

First, you’ve already far ahead of 99% of people, simply by virtue of reading material like this.

Second (I like this one), because most people are so horrible at taking action, by doing just the BASIC work, you can get disproportionate rewards. I call this the Craigslist Penis Effect.

Third, you know that unlike most people, who try to focus on a little bit of everything — let me save money on lattes! clothes! appetizers! — you understand the power of psychology and focus on a few Big Wins and psychological barriers.

For example, if you don’t have enough time after work, you could complain about or how your boss is an ass, or how you’re so tired after work…or you could test and implement a new time-management system and save 1 hour/day.

If you want to lose 25lbs, you could start by targeting just one thing — walking up the stairs at work — and reward yourself when you lose just 5lbs. For a lot of people, they’d rather dream about losing 25lbs than actually lose 5.

And you can get an accountability buddy — a friend who can help keep you on track — without making you feel guilty or useless. Someone who WANTS to help you, because they have the same goals you do.

This stuff isn’t easy. That’s why so many people dream about writing a book, getting 6-pack abs, and generating passive income. They’d rather dream about being a millionaire then start earning $1K/month on the side.

It’s supposed to be hard. But if you can do it — if you can acknowledge your psychological barriers, build systems to help you become successful, and surround yourself with winners who will challenge you to do more — you can reap the truly disproportionate rewards of being the best.

I’ve been writing IWT for over 8 years. I hope I can help you become your very best self for years to come.

Let’s start today. Instead of becoming yet another Internet whiner, let’s focus on our what we want to do. Leave a comment below describing your #1 goal for this year and the NEXT step you’ll take to make it happen.

For example, “I want to pay off my credit card debt. I just bought your book from Amazon and set up 5 hours this Saturday to read Chapter 1 and follow the action steps” or “I want to learn how to be a better public speaker, so I’m going to the Toastmasters meeting this Wednesday night and committing to go every week for 2 months.”

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271 Comments

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  1. I want to be be able to use the English language with ease, so I’m going to surround myself with English contents, continue doing flashcards and have at least two conversations in my target language a week.

    • You already use English better and more easily than a lot of people who had the advantage of being born in America.

      This raises a point: another thing successful people do that failures do not. If you look at a disadvantage as the reason you fail, then you aren’t going to succeed. If you look at a disadvantage as an opportunity to learn a new skill, and then put in a lot of hard work to learn it – then you are succeeding already. The habit of work you develop there can apply to anything else that you need to learn or do.

  2. I want to get three paying clients. I am going to do a free project for someone I admire so I can build a portfolio. I will also pitch potential clients while doing the free project.

  3. Uh, it’s supposed to be hard. And (IMHO) it’s never been easier thanks to the Internet.

    More money! Asking for a raise (Wednesday’s the day and I’m all prepared).

  4. Whoa, what did Chipolte do to you?

    • It’s not about Chipotle.

    • haha! I thought I was the only one who noticed that dig at Chipotle. Only losers eat there… ?

      In all seriousness, “I will teahc you to be rich”, seriously?!! The author is a confidence man.

  5. Thank you for telling it is as it is! Making the decision to put in the necessary work is uncomfortable, and it’s so much easier to make an excuse than show vulnerability and face the possibility of rejection. Most often, the only person keeping you from succeeding is yourself!

  6. This year, I’ve been going to the gym 3x/week since Jan and began working at an awesome tech startup since Feb. I got control of my fitness and job search due to the interview tactics and behavior change tips from you, Ramit. Your advice works whenever I applied it. My next goal is setting up my automatic accounts after investing in your @Creativelive workshop (I’m from Vietnam btw, it was 1/2 my monthly income but I’m sure that if I apply your insights, I’ll be earning more in the next few years). Thank you for the wonderful work and please keep it up! :-)

  7. I want to quit by current job to work my business as my income. So I will commit to finishing the business plan and posting fresh content to the site weekly.

  8. I want to lose some weight. That’s because I gained a bunch of flab over past 12 months doubling my squat and deadlift. I have moved to a different weight routine and switched to a calorie deficit diet. (Down 10 lbs so far) I will continue. To make sure I got to the weights on a regular basis I bought a weight set off Craigslist and have it in my garage. No packing a gym bag for me.

    I want to learn Mandarin. I don’t have a deadline for this though so I’m content to wait for Duolingo to release their Mandarin unit.

    I want to learn some carpentry, as a hobby. I have already built a workbench in my garage last week and bought the wood for a table. I have guests coming on Friday that need a place to eat, so the table better be finished by then. There’s no Plan B.

    I want to become more specialized in my career. I have already asked a senior person in my field where I should study. He pointed me to a website where there are hundreds of PDFs available for free. I have printed them out and put them into a three-ring binder. I’m already reading them and applying the knowledge there at work.

    • Greetings Brock,
      I read your comment and was curious about the website you mentioned regarding the PDFs available to study to expand or specialize your career.
      Would you mind sharing?

  9. Great post, Ramit. Reminds me of one of my favorite sayings from the movie The Rock: “Losers whine about their best; winners go home and f–k the prom queen!” Those who make excuses won’t make progress on their goals unless they find a way to make things happen.

  10. Awesome post!

    I realized most of what this post explains just recently (it was a big win, because having this realization yourself is a powerful experience). Doing something big is about making time for little things every single day, and setting the right goals.

    My goal this year is to successfully get my blog off the ground and grow a small group of loyal readers.

    Everyone else, keep working! It will come!

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